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Since my wife left me (for 6 months) I’ve been doing my own shopping. I’m not very good at it, I’m afraid. I go to the supermarket (Tescos), fill two bags with groceries, drive home and immediately think of something essential that I forgot. Or I go to the shop to buy bread and milk, say, and come away laden down with all sorts of impulse buys – like pizzas and wine and ready-meals and vegetables (that won’t get eaten) and revolutionary cleansing products.

I don’t know why, but, since I’ve taken over the role of housekeeper, I seem to have developed a keen eye for a cleansing product. I searched for days for “Power Doctor” which, apparently, is ideal for cleaning the glass on the inside of my oven door. And I’ve been in heaven since I finally discovered the aisle where they were hiding the bleach. I’m still trying to figure out how to open the bottle, but when I do the toilets won’t know what hit them! I’ve tried getting my hands on a natty new device that will clean my kitchen floor using steam. I saw it on TV. It’s called a “Shark”, but Tesco Ireland don’t seem to stock it. I suppose I’m just going have to carry on scrubbing on my hands and knees.

This grocery shopping lark is a total black art, I’ve decided. I try to shop smart, avoiding those higher-cost branded items in favor of Tesco’s own, but every time I succeed in saving pennies here and there, I always end up losing it all again on one stupid splurge. I reckon there’s a lot of insider knowledge involved. I bought cheese sauce in a packet thinking I could add it to some pasta and whip up a cheap meal. But when I got it home and read the instructions, it seems I’d bought what we used to call “a pig in a poke”. To make the sauce I had to add 300ml (1/2 pint) of milk and 25g (1 oz) of butter from my own resources.

This morning I thought I’d treat myself to a small fillet steak, and approached the butcher’s counter in a state of mild anxiety, clutching my purse firmly to my chest. I was right to be anxious. Filet steak costs €35.99 a kilo, nowadays. I came over all faint and had to sit down. €35.99 per kilo! The butcher found me a chair from somewhere. I distinctly remember the day when steak broke through the £1 per lb barrier, in the heady days of raging inflation. Mind you, that was before decimalization and the Euro.

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